Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.

I love taking tests! It sounds strange but I've always enjoyed testing and tend to get good scores without much stress. Maybe it's because of the way I study? Here's my top 3 testing tips; let's see if they help you test easier, too!

I'm a terrible procrastinator. I spent years studying for tests the night before the deadline. My test prep tip #1 is something I learned after countless late nights of cramming; study a few days earlier than the actual test! (And get a quality night's rest the day before you take your test). I almost never remembered what I learned during late study sessions, and I consistently retained more from the lecture in class than any last-minute studying. Stress and tiredness are really detrimental to retention of information, so it's important to do your studying at least a few days before the actual test. This seems obvious, but I know a lot of people who tire themselves out studying the night before, and they almost never score well.

My study tip #2 is to use all your senses while studying! It's been proven that listening to specific songs while studying and then hearing them when testing improves scores. Our brains are multi-faceted, and certain sounds, tastes, etc. bring up memories that words can't. Drink a certain flavor of water, chew gum, wear a specific perfume, or listen to a few selected songs while studying and bring those flavors, smells, or sounds into the testing room. It'll help you retain information and remember what you'd been reading or learning at the time.

Last study tip, #3, is to make things interesting! Don't be afraid to make silly jokes or doodle while taking notes. If it's related to what you're learning, you'll absorb the information easier. There have been many questions that I only answer correctly because I remember a funny-sounding name or a little doodle I drew next to the passage. Your brain remembers what it's interested in, so make learning fun for yourself and you'll test better with less effort.

Mary from Michigan
College Freshman
San Francisco Art Institute